WESTPORT The North Country has lost one of its most respected figures.
Monsignor Francis A. White, 83, died Thursday, Sept. 26, 2007, at the Meadowbrook Healthcare Center following a lengthy illness.
He was more than just our parish priest, he was a brother to everyone. He was a fine man, and an amazingly good priest who loved what he did and did it well, said his longtime friend Aileen Geiling.
Until earlier this year White was in residence at St. Philip Neri Church, in Westport. He was pastor at St. Elizabeth's Church, in Elizabethtown, from 1978 until his retirement in 1999.
Interment took place earlier this week in St. Ann's Cemetery, in Mooers Forks.
A life spent serving the North Country
Monsignor White served as a distinguished priest and much-loved pastor in a variety of assignments during his more than fifty years as a priest in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. It was always a joy to be in his presence. His gentle manner and priestly dedication were an example and inspiration to all who knew him. I particularly enjoyed visiting with him and listening to his stories of earlier days here in the diocese. He had a wonderful sense of history. His insights were always very much appreciated. His kindness will long be remembered, said the Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham, Bishop of Ogdensburg.
Monsignor White was born on Aug. 10, 1924, in Mooers Forks, NY, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Tremblay) White. He attended St. Mary's Academy in Champlain, graduating in 1942. After attending St. Michael's College, in Winooski, VT, he was enrolled at Wadhams Hall Seminary College, in Ogdensburg, until 1945. He completed his theological studies at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, MD.
He was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood on May 28, 1949, at Sacred Heart Church, in Massena, by thenBishop Bryan J. McEntegart.
On June 27, 1989, he was named Prelate of Honor of the Holy Father (Monsignor).
Monsignor White's pastoral assignments in the Diocese of Ogdensburg included assistant at St. John Bosco Church, in Malone (1949); St. Joseph's Church, in Dannemora (1950); and St. Mary's Cathedral, in Ogdensburg (1951 to 1958).
In 1958 he was named administrator of St. John the Baptist Church, in Keeseville. He also served as pastor of St. Joseph's Church, in West Chazy (1963 to 1971); St. Augustine's Church, in Peru (1971 to 1978); and St. Elizabeth's Church, in Elizabethtown from 1978 until his retirement in 1999. In 1984 he was appointed Dean of the Essex Deanery by thenBishop Stanislaus J. Brzana and served in that position until he retired.
Monsignor White also served as a diocesan consultant, on the board of advisors for the North Country Catholic and on the Bishop's Fund Committee.
Spiritual leader of the Elks
His spiritual guidance and leadership was extended across the state and the nation throughout a long and distinguished membership in the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
Monsignor White was initiated into Ogdensburg Elks Lodge in 1956. Because of a parish reassignment, he transferred to the Keeseville Lodge for a short time, and in 1963 transferred again, this time to the Plattsburgh Lodge, where he remained a member for the rest of his life.
In appreciation of his dedication to the Elks' principles of charity, justice, brotherly love, and fidelity, the Plattsburgh Lodge honored him as Elk of the Year in 1973, granted him honorary life membership and dedicated a room in his honor.
In 1966 he was appointed Chaplain of the New York State Elks Association and served in that position for the next forty years. Due to ill health, he was designated Chaplain Emeritus in 2006.
He was honored in 1970 by being named Grand Lodge chaplain for a three-year term. In 1988 he was appointed to an unprecedented second term in that post.
He served on numerous local, state and national committees, including the Elks National Foundation Scholarship Committee.
Leading members of the national organization, on various occasions, referred to him as "a tremendous spiritual leader at all levels of Elkdom," and noted that he "brought distinction to the clergy and to the State of New York."
He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Memorial donations may be made to the Elks National Foundation, c/o the Plattsburgh Lodge of Elks, 56 Cumberland Ave., Plattsburgh, NY 12901; The Priests Retirement Fund of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, P.O. Box 369, 22 Washington St., Ogdensburg, NY 13669; the Sisters of Precious Blood of Watertown, Precious Blood Monastery, 400 Pratt St., Watertown, NY 13601; or the Carmelite Sisters of Beacon, 89 Hiddenbrooke Dr., Beacon, NY 12508-3599.